|01-10-2006, 03:03 PM||#1 (permalink)|
U.S. Marine ( FAST )
Join Date: Sep 2004
Civil Affairs sends ‘smile to Iraqi’ Youths
By Pfc. Alex Cook
4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (USASOC News Service, Jan. 10, 2006) — When the sky filled with tracer ammunition being fired in early December, U.S. Soldiers thought it might be an attack.
In a way, it was … Iraq had attacked, and beaten, Syria – in soccer.
In Baghdad, children can be seen everywhere playing soccer. They gather in fields of dirt to kick a ball back and forth, perhaps forgetting their troubles during the thrill of a match. Soccer is Iraq’s favorite sport.
But in a nation struggling to rebuild itself, sometimes the little things, like funding a child’s favorite sport, can be overlooked. This holiday season, American forces sought to remedy at least a small part of that need.
The 101st Airborne Division has moved into Baghdad to help secure the city, eliminate terrorism and train Iraqi forces to reclaim their country. That’s not all the U.S. Soldiers are doing for the people of Iraq though.
This year, a detachment of the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Camp Hope had a special Christmas present for the children of Sadr City, Baghdad.
“Operation Send A Smile” came to fruition on Christmas Eve when Humvees filled with soccer balls, shin guards, socks, gloves and ball pumps were delivered to the coaches of the local youth soccer league.
Sgt. Gabrielle Abboud is a Civil Affairs non-commissioned officer for Company Bravo of the 448th. Her team was in charge of both the delivery of equipment and the presentation ceremony to the coaches.
“This is probably one of our bigger donations,” she said. “We’ve dropped a few things off before, but we’ve been saving up for this one. Soccer is very important to Iraqis. It helps keep kids off the streets.”
The soccer supplies were presented to the coaches of Sadr City’s 16 best teams, who will be competing in a tournament.
Parliament Chief of Youth Sports in Sadr City, Muhammad Abdula Shanik, explained the importance of the donation.
“No one from the government is supporting youth sports,” said Shanik “They have to support themselves.”
“Operation Send A Smile” began in Corpus Christi, Texas, with local schools and businesses getting together and collecting donations for the purchase of the soccer supplies.
“It brings the people of the U.S. great happiness knowing they will bring a smile to a child’s face,” said Maj. Kurt Anderson, a Civil Affairs Officer with the detachment.
Shanik welcomed the donation on behalf of Sadr City and thanked the American people for their generosity. He stressed how important soccer is to the people of Iraq, especially in Sadr City.
“There were 120 Iraqis in the last Olympics: 92 of them were from Sadr City,” Shanik said proudly.
Anderson said the holiday donation was just the beginning of what the Soldiers intend to do to support participation in the country’s number one sport. “This is just a small percent of what the people of Corpus Christi donated,” assured Anderson. “We’ll be presenting more later on.”
For the children in Sadr City who will be able to finish their soccer tournament with brand new “official” supplies, “Operation Send A Smile” is already a rousing success.
|affairs, civil, iraqi’, sends, youths, ‘smile|
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